Gotham returns tonight, after an extended hiatus to let Mulder and Scully poke around with flashlights. And honestly, it’s the show we’ve missed the most around here. Because while Gotham can be described a lot of ways, “boring” isn’t one of them.
Ostensibly, Gotham is a prequel show about the rise of Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) to the rank of commissioner and the parallel rise of the Penguin, the scheming Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor). And during all this, the second season has ditched the idea of being a Bat-prequel entirely and has quickly become a sprawling over-the-top drama about mob wars and corruption, except the criminals have bizarre technology and superpowers, even as Gordon loses his morality and his faith in the law by inches.
In fact, the midseason finale saw Gordon arguably ditch his good-guy credentials, as he worked together with Cobblepot to hunt down and ultimately murder Theo Galavan, the villain of the season who planned to destroy Gotham from the inside as mayor. Nobody got away clean from that particular incident, however, as a new villain enters the stage. Hugo Strange (B.D. Wong) a genetic engineer and psychiatrist, has been working with Wayne Industries to build supervillains, and he’s got his hooks into the Penguin, as well as the corpse of every major character who’s had their ticket punched on this show. Yes, we’re about to see not just supervillains, but potentially zombie supervillains.
Gotham is controversial among nerds because it’s run Batman continuity through a shredder even as the show has gleefully headed over-the-top. It’s the kind of show where an order of killer monks will show up, and once we’re finished with them in a scene, we’ll cut to the Penguin and the Riddler as Odd Couple-esque roommates. And really that’s what makes it great.
What we love about Gotham, and what keeps us watching, is that we have no idea what’s going to happen next. The show could have followed all the programmatic beats we’ve read and seen a million times before, but instead it’s leaped off into an entirely new side story. A side effect of this is that it’s a messy show, much like Rome, the first show from Gotham‘s mastermind Bruno Heller. The enormous cast means that some members, like Donal Logue, fade into the background when they shouldn’t, while characters better served by being written out take pride of place. Until recently, the show’s biggest liability was, oddly, the future Batman, Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), supposedly the entire reason we were showing up.
Still, that willingness to take Batman characters and zig when comic books demand they zag can be Gotham‘s greatest strength. The supervillains and over-the-top action sequences are just the caramel over this delicious nougat center. And we’ll see what they have in store for us tonight at 8 p.m. EST on Fox. Join us, won’t you?